I knew parents growing up who wanted to be their kids’ friends. They wanted their children’s approval and they didn’t know how to say “no” because it’s harder to say “no” if you’re on the same level. They sought their kids’ approval more than their kids sought theirs.
My parents were not my friends, not even close.
Now that I’m grown up I am so thankful that my mother once said to me,
“I don’t care if you like me or not.”
And meant it.
At times, I hated her and she was okay with that because she was my mother and always would be no matter how I felt about her.
I was jealous of parents who seemed “cool”; parents who hung out with their kids, drank with their kids, let their kids get away with murder, spoiled their kids and generally acted like their kids’ best pals.
Not mine. No way.
My parents didn’t vie for my attention or try to talk to me like we were on the same level because, well, we weren’t.
My mother couldn’t be bargained with or wheedled into things, she couldn’t be guilted, she couldn’t be talked into bad ideas, she couldn’t be coerced the way you could do with your friends. She wouldn’t say yes just to see me smile and the only thing she employed in her decision making process were her moral standards and her position as a person of power and wisdom.
And my Dad, well, once my Dad made a decision it was like the Supreme Court handing down a decision.
My parents were fond of the phrase,” Because I said so,” and employed it frequently.
I didn’t appreciate this as I made my way from preteen to my early twenties. I relied on my friends for anything and everything but my friends came and went; my friends often led me astray and I did the same for them. My friends gave me bad advice because they didn’t know better and I led them down similar paths for the sake of friendship.
Through it all my parents were like a lighthouse leading me home.
Home was a place where there was no question about who they were or what they stood for.
Home was a place where they looked me right in the face and called my actions ugly weak or wrong and loved me anyway.
Home was a place where I had a mother and father; they were the only ones I would ever have and they took that job seriously.
I’m grateful they had the will to show me right from wrong rather than the weakness to need a companion thirty years younger than they were.
I’m grateful they had the backbone to be what no one else in the entire world could be.
I never knew what a privilege there was in one little word until I heard my firstborn say my name and I knew I’d spend a lifetime trying to live up to it.
Mama: It’s a great job and someone’s got to do it and I’m ever so grateful it’s me.